Dim Sum at Zitz Sum

Chef Pablo Zitzmann Lands in the Gables with Pop-Up Chinese

The only restaurant outside of Coral Gables this magazine ever reviewed was No Name Chinese in South Miami. It broke our mantra of “Everything Within the Gables, Nothing Outside the Gables.” But it was that good. (And just a few hundred yards outside the city limits). 

For those of you who still miss the light, nouveaux Chinese dishes at No Name (which closed two years ago) the news is good. For those who’ve never tasted the cuisine of Chef Pablo Zitzmann, the news is also good. 

After reinventing himself as an online purveyor of Chinese dumplings, Chef Zitzmann is back – along with the delectable dumplings he has perfected – in a new Coral Gables restaurant, Zitz Sum. He is calling it a pop-up restaurant, albeit with a one-year lease. But what a pop-up it is, located on the ground floor of the 396 Alhambra office tower. 

Chef Zitzmann
Chef Pablo Zitzmann, renowned for his Chinese dumplings.
Dim Sum at Zitz Sum
Zitz Sum is inside the beautiful lobby of 396 Alhambra.

If nothing else, visiting Zitz Sum is an excuse to walk through the magnificent lobby of 396 Alhambra, starting with its gigantic, brass filagree doors. Tucked to one side, the restaurant immediately scales you down to a more intimate space, which faces a pleasant outdoor courtyard with Sapporo umbrellas. One wall inside is a giant, deep red lotus mural, while another is a recessed bar where you can also eat. 

The star here is the food, a welcome reinvention of Chinese dishes with some Korean tastes thrown in for good measure,
 all of it overlaid with a creative spin from the Mexican side of Zitzmann’s heritage (the other side is German, and we can only be thankful that’s not in the mix). His charred Chinese cabbage is infused with chili butter, for example, while his shrimp dumplings are served in a pool of mole. 

The menu is limited and focused, and you’ll want to eat everything on it. When we visited, there were three “Small Plates,” four “Large Plates” and four “Dim Sum” – i.e. dumplings. All looked amazing, from the sweet and sour cucumber and lychee salad to the black angus steak with kimchi vinaigrette, black garlic and onion soubise. But we were here for the dumplings. 

First we tried the har gow: Steamed pink shrimp dumplings resting on a spread of 
mole, that unique dark sauce of chiles, peanuts, cumin, cinnamon, chocolate, cloves, raisins, etc. Wonderful. Then we tried the “wonton in brodo,” which takes traditional Chinese pork dumplings and bathes them in a broth of charred leek and onion. Fantastic. Finally we tried the chicken pot stickers, which came in a sauce of Calabrian chili and crunchy garlic. Out of this world. 

Dim Sum at Zitz Sum
Har gow dumplings, pink shrimp on a bed of mole sauce.
Dim Sum at Zitz Sum
Wonton in brodo, pork dumplings in a leek broth.
Chicken pot stickers
Chicken pot stickers in a Calabrian chili sauce.

Though we did not have room (especially after a lager that was brewed, of all places, in Hialeah) we had to try the crispy rice, which provided the bed for a rich stir fry of trumpet and oyster mushrooms plus soft egg, salsa verde, snow peas and green beans. You mix it, like a Korean bibimbap, and the result is a delicious contrast of the chewy rice with softer veggies. The salsa verde (Mexico again) gives it an unexpected, refreshing edge. We also tried the equally refreshing and toothsome cucumber salad. Not to be missed. 

Zitzmann developed these fabulous flavors during quarantine with his wife Natalia Restrepo, herself a Chilean pastry chef and co-owner. Her influence shows up in the selection of Chilean wines from vintners near her hometown. She also hand-rolled dumplings with Zitzmann for 10 hours a day when they were selling them online. 

“Every culture has its rituals and making dumplings with you and yours is a wonderful way
to connect and comfort each other. Everything’s so personal for us here,” Zitzmann says. “There’s nothing better than sharing warm, tasty dumplings and a glass of wine with friends and family. That’s where real joy comes from.” 

That sense of joy is palpable at Zitz Sum, where the attentive staff will enthusiastically break down any of the dishes with detailed descriptions and recommendations. And if you can’t get in on the weekends (Zitzmann’s followers are booking well in advance) then go on a weeknight; we snuck in for an early Tuesday happy hour bite at 6 p.m., which made the weekday all the more enjoyable. 

Zitz Sum

396 Alhambra Circle, Suite 155
Tues. – Sat., 5 to 10 p.m